Soccer is fast becoming a business, even for the high school and collegiate players. And because of this you’ve got to know how to create a reputation that works for you. While there is protection provided in being a youth and by your parents, some people and places will exploit that. How are you protecting your brand? Your ‘brand’ is how people describe you when your name is mentioned.
BRAND /brand/ noun:
[Y]our “brand” is what your prospect [parents, coaches, future coaches] thinks of when he or she hears your [name].
What are coaches thinking about you?
I once had a professional coach abroad describe me in an email to another coach as being like a tiger in terms of height, speed, and the amount of food I could consume. However, this coach also described my attitude as atypical of an American; he perceived me as humble, hardworking and quiet. I think showing everyone respect and just working your hardest shows people they can trust you.
Your ‘brand’ is all the things I am providing you guidelines for in this guidebook. Your brand includes your level of fitness, your preparation for the game and season, your attitude on and off the field, your extracurricular activities, and the things that you say. Even your smile, eye contact or lack of are parts of your brand. I recommend smiling when you are speaking with coaches. It’s okay to be nervous, but as long as you are making eye contact, smiling at least a little and being yourself coaches will like you.
For example, your brand might include:
- Your diet, exercise program and your out-of-season fitness and condition
- Quality of your play technically, physically, mentally and how hard you work
- Your friendships
- Your travel habits, activities, and attitudes [e.g., do you consistently break travel curfew]
Setting good habits early
Set your good habits now. Also, know your target ‘market’ [i.e., the specific coaches you are seeking out]. Although unlikely at the collegiate level, you may have a coach who curses you out, so how will you handle this? How will you handle teammates who do drugs, party, and disrupt school? These things will probably happen – I have been there. The worst thing for me was my attitude and arrogance – my ignorance to the fact that nothing I did was unknown and how much it mattered. So set good habits early and keep them. You won’t regret it.
Highlight your talent with video
Nowadays almost everyone has a highlight video by their Junior year. The thing is most of them don’t have a good one. This is for many reasons. Try to get highlights from club games not high school. If your high school is a top 10 school in the State and you have footage playing against another strong program that could work.
Just know that coaches don’t want to see you playing against weak competition. Your video might look great, but they don’t care about that. The number one thing they want to know is who are playing against.
Learn about the college coach and program
One thing you want to do is learn about the program you are showing interest to. Most players just write letters or send info without ever learning about the school. Coaches want players who want to play at their program. Showing interest will give you an extra edge over others. Tell the coach that you like the teams playing style or ask them questions about the program. Learning about the schools you contact shows respect and responsibility.
Finally, know yourself and what you need to do to improve ‘train up’ your weaknesses. Don’t ignore your strengths just because you are already strong in that area. It’s important to work on both your strengths and weaknesses. Keep doing you because no one else has your thoughts, abilities, or playing style. That’s why the futbol community names certain moves by the players’ names – they focus on their abilities and moves and don’t try mimic someone else. Sure, learn as much as you can, but be yourself always.
Positive smart social media
Social media is huge – and could be the difference between your getting an offer or not. Colleges want to know you make wise decisions in your content curation and are not prone to publishing your opinions or those of others in an emotional or irrational manner. I’ve heard of players losing scholarships because of things they post on social media. One girl posted her fighting another girl and she lost a full scholarship.
*this is an excerpt from my College Prep book. Download it for free here.